Bernard Yu’s content strategy notes

Bernard Yu was kind enough to pass along his notes from our June 9th content strategy meet-up. Here they are. Thanks so much, Bernard!

Gretchen Thomas talks about how we must satiate people’s appetite for information, and how content strategy can do it. (Her slidesFollow on Twitter.)

  • “People can read. And they want to all the time, especially online.” People are consuming information all the time and they’re doing it everywhere while on their laptops and phones (even while driving). Everyone does it, even our president.
  • We must meet the demand for information. If we don’t, nobody will use our site.
  • Content strategy is organizing and planning our communication to meet brand+business, user needs, sales+marketing, and technology objectives.
  • Content strategy is essential for interface and design planning, social media, blogging, and ongoing website management.
  • Without a proper content strategy, projects tend to fall into content delay syndrome, where copywriting, media creation gets pushed to the very end of a project rather than being planned as part of the interface. (Lorem ipsum doesn’t work!)
  • Often projects end up with “Website Bolt-On Syndrome” where websites are hastily developed before thoughtful planning can occur. Future content and functionality becomes homeless and the overall interface becomes disjointed. This also often happens when websites are developed before they are planned.
    • Content strategy should come before picking the CMS, and there may be times the content strategist should be in the meeting to pick a CMS.
  • CDS and WBOS is where you get home pages with titles like “Home Page.”
  • Content strategy should at least include specific content to address, meta data/SEO keywords, a plant for content distribution, and an ongoing editorial plan for keeping content fresh.
  • Content strategy is good for the your sanity! It makes sure the client, project team, and marketers are all on the same page, and know what the goal is. It promotes brand consistency, and ultimately helps end users.
  • A content strategy can start out like a sitemap and go into wireframes with detailed information. With larger and more complicated sites, a content strategy plan may need to be a large detailed document laying out objectives page-by-page. The sitemap is a living document.
  • Example: change.org redesigned around a comprehensive content strategy. There was increased user engagement, a better user experience, and increased traffic.
  • Great user experience needs great content. Half-assed content will tear down the rest of the project.
  • “Make great content a priority, and you’ll create something that actually matters.”

Margot Bloomstein talks about what content strategy is, how it’s sexy, and helps fight the weird. (Her A List Apart articleFollow on Twitter.)

  • Content strategy is: “Planning for the creation, aggregation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable, and appropriate content in an experience.”
  • “Content strategy can help you communicate as a designer — and through design.”
  • “Content is the real reason people use the web.” They want to find your store hours, comment on a post, publish their pictures, research, etc.
  • Good content strategy makes for a more coherent projects. It gives everyone on the project a shared goal, and ultimately helps build a cohesive user experience.
  • Content strategy starts from putting together a “message architecture”:
    • What do you need to communicate your brand?
    • List of adjectives that describe the business and brand.
    • Prioritize key messages
    • Use real copy. (Don’t use Lorem ipsum!)
  • Words are cheaper than comps! Content strategy saves time and money for the design budget.
  • You can get things done in fewer revisions.
  • Content strategy offers clients predictability.
  • Content strategy offers clients predictability: they can plan for what will be needed: photo shoots, gather testimonials, you can anticipate all the different content types that will be needed, clients can write to exact specifications and character counts.
  • Content strategy offers predictability for you: design for specific content types and character counts. Anticipate structure for user-generated content. The designer can create more interesting templates because you can anticipate and design for content types and even exact character counts.
    • Example: If the designers know that descriptions and summaries will be within a specific length, then they can design exact spaces for the content so all the different content types fit together on the page.
  • Content and visual design that shares a message architecture creates a more consistent, richer user experience.
  • Content strategy should offer editorial style guides: Sentence structures that fit with a brand, word to use and not use.
  • You can anticipate content types in your design, and even design for exact character counts!
  • Content strategists can empathize with the information architects and project managers. Figure out what content you already have, and what is needed. (After all, how can you budget by page count if you don’t know how many pages you need?)
  • Content strategy needs a quantitative and qualitative content audit:
    • What content is there already?
    • Is it structurally consistent? Does it fit the brand? Is it current, appropriate, and relevant? Is it good? Does it even work?
  • “Content strategy informs more thorough, comprehensive sitemap, and wireframes.”
  • How to sell content strategy to the client:
    • Not wasting money (they want to say something, right?)
    • Content strategy isn’t just writing,
    • Copywriting doesn’t hit the strategic questions
    • In-house writers lack an outside perspective.
    • Helps write brand consistent meta and ad copy.
  • Content management should be considered a workflow solution to carrying out the content strategy.
  • Effective use of social media is not just about advertising the brand, it’s about engaging with the audience: 1/3 self-promotion, 1/3 about others, 1/3 general helpful information. “Good conversation demands good content strategy.”
  • Content strategy plans for the future. By developing editorial style guides and an editorial calendar, it keeps content fresh, and keeps all new content (via blogs, social media, etc.) consistent with the brand and overall message.
  • Good content strategy creates more air-tight solutions, saves time/budget, cohesive user experience, higher conversions, and makes everyone happier.

21. June 2010 by Michael Seidel
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